Pope ousts head of of­fice prob­ing sex abuse cases

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD -

VAT­I­CAN CITY — Pope Fran­cis sacked the head of the Vat­i­can of­fice that han­dles sex abuse cases Satur­day, just days af­ter he re­leased an­other top Vat­i­can cardinal to re­turn home to stand trial for al­leged sex­ual as­sault.

The de­vel­op­ments un­der­scored how the Catholic Church’s sex abuse cri­sis has caught up with Fran­cis, threat­en­ing to tar­nish his le­gacy over a se­ries of ques­tion­able ap­point­ments, de­ci­sions and over­sights in his four-year pa­pacy.

Per­haps sens­ing a need to change course, Fran­cis de­clined to re­new the five-year term of Ger­man Cardinal Ger­hard Mueller as pre­fect of the Con­gre­ga­tion for the Doc­trine of the Faith, the Vat­i­can of­fice that pro­cesses and eval­u­ates all cases of priests ac­cused of rap­ing or mo­lest­ing mi­nors.

Fran­cis named Mueller’s deputy, Mon­signor Luis Ladaria Fer­rer, a Span­ish Je­suit, to run the pow­er­ful of­fice in­stead.

Mueller, 70, has de­nied any dif­fer­ences with the Pope and says he isn’t up­set with his ear­lier-than-ex­pected dis­missal. The nor­mal re­tire­ment age for bish­ops is 75.

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